MAN OF LA MANCHA (Act II): 60-second review

Sonny Leo and Peter Schmitz star as Sancho Panza and Don Quixote in Act II Playhouse's production of "Man of La Mancha," now playing through June 8, 2014. Photo by Bill D'Agostino.

Sonny Leo and Peter Schmitz star as Sancho Panza and Don Quixote in Act II Playhouse’s production of “Man of La Mancha,” now playing through June 8, 2014. Photo by Bill D’Agostino.

MAN OF LA MANCHA is a skillfully constructed stage production written by Dale Wasserman and directed by Aaron Cromie. The production is the clear result of what happens when a group of professionals pour their talents into a common goal. MAN OF LA MANCHA is a play within a play. Poet/playwright/tax collector Miguel de Cervantes (Peter Schmitz) is imprisoned in Spain in the late 16th century during the inquisition for crimes against the Church. During his imprisonment he finds he must also stand trial to his fellow inmates at the potential cost of all his possessions. Cervantes and his servant (Sonny Leo) set about his defense in the best way he knows how: a performance. Cervantes masterfully reels in his fellow inmates to play roles within his play drawing them deeper and deeper into his story. Cervantes portrays Don Quixote, a tortured man who is living out his dream as a knight errant in a bout of madness. He and his squire Sancho Panza (also Sonny Leo), travel the land battling imaginary dragons and giants while upholding the code of chivalry and protecting virtue. He meets his noble love Aldonza (Maria Konstantinidis) whom he refers to as Dulcinea who is actually a loose parlor worker. However, Quixote is just like Cervantes whose mystical charm is oddly captivating and gains the adoration of others despite his madness.

MAN OF LA MANCHA is a testament to broad talent. The actors play 40 roles throughout the play and also serve as the stage orchestra playing a variety of instruments from guitar to the glockenspiel. The near two dozen scores are intriguing and range from funny to heartfelt. The actors seamlessly wove themselves around the stage, transitioning between props, instruments, and scenes. The set was very well done; depicting the common area in a Spanish prison hall drawing the audience in to the reality of the prisoners despite the distraction of a charismatic, albeit mad, man facing a likely dreary end. This play has it all with music, drama, and humor. Catch MAN OF LA MANCHA [56 E. Butler Ave., Act II Playhouse, Ambler, PA.] April 29–June 8, 2014, act2.org.

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About the author

Lauren Hartranft

Lauren Hartranft grew up engrossed in books, theater, and music. She daylights as a behavior consultant, which she believes helps her perceive daily life, personalities, and theater in a unique way. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie and borderline hippie who likes to garden, make her own wine, and absorb as much culture from the world around her as possible. Lauren can be reached via email at lhartranft@verizon.net.